China and Iran have been caught trying to squash protests over China’s zero-COVID-19 policy and the death of a 22-year-old woman in the custody of Iran’s morality police respectively. In China’s case, the protest came in the form of banners criticizing the government hung from a busy intersection in Beijing.
China’s internet censors moved quickly to scrub social media posts about the banners Thursday. Pictures of the banners can still be found on Twitter, which is blocked in China.
“No COVID test, we want to eat. No restrictions, we want freedom. No lies, we want dignity. No cultural revolution, we want reform. No leader, we want votes. By not being slaves, we can be citizens,” the banners read, according to a translation provided on Twitter by a Dutch reporter based in Beijing.
Posts containing the hashtag Beijing were quickly blocked on China’s popular Weibo social media platform. Others said on Twitter that their accounts had been temporarily disabled on another major Chinese platform, WeChat, after they shared photos of the banners. A song called “Sitong Bridge,” named after the section of elevated roadway where the banner were reportedly hung, was removed from online music platforms.
The China protests came on the same day Iran’s president accused the United States of conducting a “failed policy of destabilization” targeting his nation in the wake of protests over the death of Mahsa Amini. She had been detained, accused of not wearing her hijab properly.
“The Iranian nation has invalidated America’s military option, and has also, as the Americans themselves have admitted, brought the policy of sanctions and maximum pressure a humiliating failure,” Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said Thursday. “Now, following America’s failure in militarism and sanctions, Washington and its allies have resorted to the failed policy of destabilization.”
Protests over Amini’s death have lasted for weeks, spreading across at least 19 Iranian citied Wednesday. Iranian Education Minister Yousof Nouri offered the first confirmation that school-age children had been arrested amid the protests. According to the newspaper Shargh, he declined to offer a figure for those arrest, only saying those detained had been put “in a psychiatric center,” not in jail.